Poetry Blog by John E Marks
Tags from last 12 months
Lorca’s blood wedding bleeding
Reminds me of nothing more than the toil, toil, toil
Of life in Al-Andalus.
Priests chanting their rosary
Like it was El Maleh Rachamim
Or the Mourner’s Kaddish (which it probably was, if the priest
Was a Jewish Converso, who changed his religion
To save his life or, maybe, the life of his children). The Moriscos (ex-Muslim Moors), as us...
Saturday 22nd February 2020 12:29 am
She still walks beside me
Tall, stooped, a quintessentially English presence.
I listen again to how those flat Fenland vowels
Swirled into melodies melded with the staccato RP of Cambridge.
We knew so many minor key explorations of sadness;
Pulling at the scabs of loneliness and regret.
Yet you beget songs made plangent
By the melancholic timbre of your voice.
Your abiding mood was irre...
Friday 21st February 2020 10:15 pm
Antonio Salieri, a man of less than monkish virtue, and of very little talent,
Falsely promised the deliverance of Jerusalem from infidel rule,
This was a lie. All his music was packed full of lies and thefts.
At the age of 35 Amadeus Mozart fell ill. Mozart was prodigious producing:
Opera buffa such as Figaro, Don Giovanni, Cosi Fan Tutte
Opera seria such as Idomeneo and Die Zauber...
Friday 21st February 2020 9:55 pm
The marvellous Lidos of London
Nowhere better to live that summer
So many bodies lifted into the sense
Of immortality, of continuance, except
My black gay friend who nearly
Ended it all in a council house. I turned
Off the gas and he managed to last
Long enough to play drums at Wembley
Stadium on a certain day. We once
Drove up to Harrow-on-the-hill
He felt ill when ...
Wednesday 19th February 2020 11:29 pm
Treading through the dark Sargosso sea
A freezing mist in the air, a winter sway,
Celtic, crossed and re-crossed, we're on our way.
A watery Calvary stares into our blemished air
And you cannot, ever, ever, be there.
Today we dead coagulate - we are not where you think we are -
We thicken into consciousness. Our dying words still taken at the fall
Rampant, they are on our cracked lips, no...
Wednesday 19th February 2020 9:55 pm
"Think you're escaping and run into yourself. Longest way round is the shortest way home. History, Stephen said, is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.” James Joyce, Ulysses
All that we expected
All epics and rhapsodies
The hour of our birth
The hour of our death.
Icicles, stalagmites and stala...
Wednesday 19th February 2020 9:26 pm
The glass bead game had its part to play,
On that formless holiday,
And chemotherapy and surgery,
And a walk across a Lancaster field one day
When I was young and broken.
A skylark rose so fast I froze
looking! looking! on my toes
catch the song flying away.
A stuttering of a past
that does not last
within a rhyming chiming mind
O! that charming man, I ...
Sunday 16th February 2020 7:48 pm
It was an ordinary, wet north Manchester night
Of solid rain, unremittingly wet and cold.
When, suddenly, all the rivers, in all the world, stopped flowing
And all the summer colours leached away and never returned
And the wind it got so cold and stings like hell
And then the sky descends into the air.....
And you're not there.
The blackness is deep, deep and remains...
Saturday 15th February 2020 12:14 am
."Remembering death, I know the life of the world as it is now is not living, it is a bad process of dying. And what we must live for is a new world of life. It doesn't matter when we die, so long as we live fulfilling the deepest desire that is in us. And a life which is a denial of the deepest desire is much worse than any death, it is a sheer lie." DH LAWRENCE
I have drunk a lot of whis...
Friday 14th February 2020 10:07 pm
All that is, is not,
Numbed into meaning:
In a city without sleep,
They die in the sky
Whilst counting sheep.
Moon people kiss,
Not like normal people do,
I dreamt a dream with a broken heart
And the dream is of you.
St Stephen with a rose
In and out of the garden he goes
Country garden in the ...
Wednesday 12th February 2020 9:59 pm
I do not drink,
But I am living under this mountain
That might crush the life out of me
Any time, any day,
So, I drink anyway.
Too much grandiosity
Dims the soul
Makes us old.
I hear the wise ones pleading, pleading when on fire,
So much screaming, as the flames they get higher:
Hebane, belladonna, mandrake, datura
All of these, like mescaline, can see right throug...
Monday 10th February 2020 9:58 pm
As the wind blows ever faster,
And the temperature drops,
– I am recalled
To my dialogue with the dead.
My grandfather, Jack, had his
Last pint of bitter in this pub
I am sitting in before
Embarking for France in 1914,
And his first one back in November 1918.
2020 Jack - alive in my heart - always loved, never seen -
Not a line of his writing have I, not a wisp of his...
Monday 10th February 2020 8:51 am
On this beautiful spring day in February
With delphinium-blue skies and cheeky
Crocuses splashing purple and dazzling
Daffs nodding in agreement, on this mild Aprilesque
Zephyr of a breeze. Then folk do long to go on pilgrimage,
My pilgrimages are to interior parts
Where I seek relics of a past that cannot last
I imagine that if a poet, who I have in mind,
Were given one m...
Saturday 8th February 2020 11:15 pm
Desires, memories, fears, so many tears,
I only know that here is the murmur of the waves,
And the spindly branches tremble on the trees
The morning light is thin, flimsy,
The vagaries of auguries are spread out
Like a blanket over the antique branches
Of oak trees and the birds sing
to the rising in the East, of the sun, which is magical;
This is a birth day, a death day, ...
Saturday 8th February 2020 9:50 pm
Some muttered words on a windy night
Make me listen closely to her heart-beat.
Words can decline into cant – quick, flippant, arrogant
Listen! to the Gregorian chants of the monks: singing across the centuries.
In silence, I admire the stonemason’s art, their way of seeing things,
Frozen in time, giving form to a vision of God-knows-what,
A palimpsest of languages: Latin, Norman...
Saturday 8th February 2020 9:30 pm
I struggle every day to remain well,
It's an obstacle course, of sorts,
Yesterday, I was ko'd, knocked out,
But before the count of 10 I was
Up again, fighting to recover my balance, my poise.
On my toes
I rose to the challenge.
Today, I Am fasting, the best detox I know,
Hoping I will recover, in time
To watch a film, have a meal,
Get up from my bed. Be well.
Friday 7th February 2020 12:10 am
Fluid the medium by which we desire,
Heavy the limits from which we aspire
To lift ourselves free on the wings of a dove
To practise perfection by drinking his blood.
The illusion of earth is splintering fast
We grab at the air, as we fall at the last:
Witchery, Witan, Wicca and Wizard
Pursuing the furies is why we are feared.
Opening spaces and stretching out time
In a ...
Tuesday 4th February 2020 11:12 pm
On March 15th 20118, I was two days away from the delirium of sepsis and I wrote this.
“In the name of Annah the Allmaziful, the Everliving, the Bringer of Plurabilities, haloed be her eve, her singtime sung, her rill be run, unhemmed as it is uneven!”
― James Joyce, Finnegans Wake
catching my death
is an English melody
travelling from heat to freezing cold
culture, religion, ...
Tuesday 4th February 2020 10:34 pm
You are my moment, and my dream,
Great is my say in the passing of your day
The rules of aesthetics do not apply
You are only a beauty because you pout and lie
How secret you are; and true
As you crave me to be.
Stay unreachable, far away because
The dream of happiness is more than happiness.
Be garrulous, free with words and with youth;
Let your hair and your ec...
Saturday 1st February 2020 11:53 pm
The guttering rain of home
Stains the memory
Longer than churches
Is it duty to devotion
Or devotion to duty that keeps
Me standing in this field of ripe poppies?
At a loss. I don't know
How can we translate this chaos
The grammar of suffering
Lost in translation
Faith no longer floods my mind
My mind reminds me...
Saturday 1st February 2020 2:56 pm
Oh Lord, my God, I fell asleep,
No longer in a state of grace,
No longer a beautiful woman,
No longer a poet, beloved by the Emperor,
I am a harlot, like Mary Magdalene,
A sister of the Christ - dazzled by the myrrh,
By an acre of sorcery,
Destroyed by a terrible moon
By the time of the month; by everything being too late, or too soon.
By the phases of the moon.
Give me you...
Friday 31st January 2020 11:52 pm
“Into my heart an air that kills
From yon far country blows:
What are those blue remembered hills,
What spires, what farms are those?
That is the land of lost content,
I see it shining plain,
The happy highways where I went
And cannot come again."
- Poem XL
― A.E. Housman, A Shropshire Lad
Ordinary life creates
Inside of me
Composed of God-knows-what:
Friday 31st January 2020 11:11 pm
On 21st December, 1873, Horace Moule was staying with his brother, Charles Moule. When he heard a strange noise in an adjoining room, Charles discovered that Horace had slashed his windpipe with a razor. He was covered in blood but conscious and was able to utter his last words "Easy to die. Love to my mother."
Written two days before sepsis
The sting of the wind
On this cold spring day
Wednesday 29th January 2020 10:38 pm
If I send you an emoji
Will you know exactly
How I feel?
Will you truly know
That love is real?
Or, if I send you
A coffin-shaped nail
Will you wail and gnash
Will you experience
A kind of grief?
Or, truly, truly,
Will you not
Give a flying toss?
Loss, in all its peculiar manifestations,
Unites people of all races, classes and denominations...
Wednesday 29th January 2020 9:23 pm
The Scientific Enlightenment came at no small cost
Christianity took a thousand years to subdue
Now Islam is in the west, as fundamentalism is born anew
Imprisonment, blasphemy, books burnt, inquisition, internment, death.
Yet, the Secular-Spiritual-Sceptical-Scientific spirit survives
A new constant vigilance is the price we pay
As unreformed superstition seeks to re-establish a...
Friday 24th January 2020 10:28 pm
The multi-verse within:
I stumble into my usual discontent
A bout of sleep –
A fragment of the fourth dimension,
An echo of a dream –
Time, like the river Lethe,
Washes over me
Left I am here, bereft,
To float upon this river of unmindfulness
Towards the golden dome
Which glows with ...
Friday 24th January 2020 10:07 pm
When my eyes are full of tears
And I cannot cry.
When I think I've conquered my fears
But I can only sigh.
When I rise to the occasion,
And hold myself together,
In rain or shine or stormy weather,
And my heart beats fast,
And faster still,
As if I'm running up the steepest-steepest hill.
Then the memories tumble out,
And stop me dead,
And I cry, at last,
Tuesday 21st January 2020 11:59 pm
O! daughter dear, on this mid-western afternoon,
When I can see all the way to Sacremento, I cry
For you, Ariel-blue, in all your golden-girlhood
Too lovely for a life of pettiness and sin were you
You caught a boat to England, never returned.
My heart burns for an extraordinary Jew like you,
Beautifully clever Ariel-blue. And, maybe I didn’t talk
To you like I yearned and wa...
Tuesday 21st January 2020 11:22 pm
A raggedy thin cotton dress
Torn. On the little girl playing
On this freezing December day.
Was she torn from her mama or given away
She's left by her friends
And deserted by her dad
And neglected by those who pretend to care.
Little Ellie is sad and hungry
The priest says ‘she’s going-on bad’.
Her school calls the doctor,
And the doctor calls the nurse,
Torn this and that way,
Saturday 18th January 2020 11:39 pm
Walking over O’Connell bridge in central Dublin
On this freezing morning. Body hunched, coat pulled
Tight. Hearing the cries of seagulls, or is it the hawkers
In Henry Street? Over in Blackrock, Éamon de Valera,
Has begun to die. The sky is heavy with snow
As in Joyce’s The Dead. I walk to Bewleys
In Grafton Street, dispense with my fluttering
Of snow as I take off my overcoat...
Saturday 18th January 2020 10:48 pm
Tender is the Night
And all her forgotten beauty
People pass out of sight
On this August midnight
When the serpent and the saviour sit
Somewhere in old-England.
No truths are hidden from our lady moon
No disguising her faint silvery tune.
Such wide-open rosy faces, face the blackest of skies,
Gnarled hands shade their frightened eyes,
Friday 17th January 2020 10:54 pm
Now only the scrag-end of human remains
Whenever I see a death date,
Say 1989, I think in 1986 s/he had three years
Left to live
Except in this case, he was born and died, in 1985.
His blue-blue eyes
Are with me alway.
As night follows day.
He made me think of the Aztecs
Silky, gossamer, filmy, wind-borne, seeds floating by
High, high, so very, very high, in the And...
Friday 17th January 2020 10:25 pm
The best of the British fell in the Boer War,
World Wars ! and 2,
On the Somme, Passchendaele, Verdun.
Galipolli, Malaya, Aden, North Africa, Normandy.
Gene-pool fucked from then on.
Our luckier cousins had long ago set off across the broad Atlantic
Convicts moved straight on to the antipodes,
To the Swan River of Western Australia
Convict scum of the East End born to live...
Friday 17th January 2020 10:10 pm
This the place of recovery
This is where she began
Amharic text reminds us,
As we live beneath the sun,
She was a warrior,
An Amazon on the run.
Who, when sky was black as gold,
Was dragged across the sunless sea
By men without a soul:
Her stories and narrations,
Her lives as yet untold.
From slave ships and from factories
Amidst the stinking heat
We hear the triump of wizened men...
Thursday 16th January 2020 12:24 am
At home, my daughter said:
Good luck daddy!
I had a long journey ahead
Let me eat, before I drink,
They are building the cave.
In case of Arab raiders.
Oh! Distance, distance.
My nephew is the remover of bottles
A drunkard yes, but a useful idiot.
Constantinople is a remote power
But powerful, the Ottomans
Rule by terror
Let me go with it, before it's...
Friday 10th January 2020 9:35 pm
She's the shadow of a shadow,
She's the smile upon a face,
She's tantalising, like music,
Released from time and space.
Her image is a mirror,
Of glance and glimpse and gleam
On St Agnes Eve pursuing
The remnants of a dream.
We track her down the by-ways
Of yearning and despair
But at the sound of foot-fall
She'll vanish in thin air.
But in the wa...
Friday 10th January 2020 2:04 pm
The tone of the big bell settles in the dust
of this small market town in county meath
and on the stained glass window still
i see the sun-marked resonance of bell;
circles of uninscribed sound
through all the cerebral centuries
chimes and chants for christ the king
chimes of crucifix, pyx and plate
these bells have blessed the insouci...
Monday 6th January 2020 9:57 pm
‘Read poetry,’ he wrote: ‘poetry makes men better.’ How often, in my later life, I realized the truth of this remark of his! Read poetry: it makes men better.”
― Peter Kropotkin, Memoirs of a Revolutionist
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
We own nothing
We are merely stewards
Passing on, occasionally adding to,
But I don’t think mother Earth
Would think much o...
Monday 6th January 2020 9:50 pm
there's only so much reading you can do
so much listening to storms rumble in
from far horizons
we think this earth is solid under us
but talk to a Seismologist
then you'll quake
we carry this dream of solidity
with us always: in hospital, at the grave-side
everywhere our dream allows us to live
hoping, just hoping
that we're travelling towards
Friday 3rd January 2020 11:45 pm
When life seems so easy
And soft summer zephyrs blow
Keep an eye upon the future:
Ice, rain and snow.
Illness, pride and sin
And from without:
Envy, greed, the horned snout.
The Buddhas of Bamiyan
Hewn directly from sandstone cliffs
Were destroyed by the Taliban
After nearly 2000 years.
What an irony
For the clos...
Friday 3rd January 2020 9:24 pm
Crushing colours a palette on a cross
Flipping textures into the tones of the bones,
Tom-All-Alone’s home in the West End of London;
A sudden perspective on slums,
A rule of thumb, conditioned by time.
Point of view will not do it for you.
Sweeping the litter far away, that awful day
Circumstances conspire to a bitter end
A swirl of thumb or a brush with a stroke
Friday 3rd January 2020 8:50 pm